We are officially in the dog days of summer. As Rangers’ fans, we have nothing to talk about except how we differ by $250K on Mika Zibanejad’s future contract, so a good use of time would seem to be ranking the Rangers’ prospect pool. A little bit of a forward though, I will not be considering Anthony Deangelo or Pavel Buchnevich in the prospect pool as they are no longer ‘rookies’. But I will probably talk about them when we get to the top of the rankings. There is a lot that we can talk about for each prospect and while some seem to be on the verge of striking out as NHL guys, they may still have value to the organization by being good depth AHLers.
35. Adam Chapie (RW, 26, 6’1, 185 lbs)
I honestly wasn’t even about to consider Adam Chapie as a prospect given his age, but he is still on his entry level contract so by default I guess I have to. There is not much to say about Chapie, he has failed at the AHL level and was outproduced by a lot of his ECHL teammates including Michael Joly, who I hope we bring back to the system. You really can’t look up for Chapie, at 26 most players in the NHL are already starting to slowly experience a little bit of a decline. I mean people were clamoring to trade Derek Stepan for getting older and he is only 27.
What Chapie does well is taking shots off passes, especially on the power play. But in the pro leagues, he simply has not been able to release the puck fast enough. At his age, I don’t think the Rangers expected him to become Matt Read, but more of a home grown Quadruple A player, that didn’t happen and that’s all there is to say about that.
34. Daniel Bernhardt (W, 21, 6’3, 194 lbs)
People may have forgotten about Daniel Bernhardt, and honestly that is probably because his team in Sweden did too. Bernhardt was an interesting pick by the Rangers. He had the size and showed flashes of skill to be considered a possible power forward prospect. His play in the J18 league definitely showed some level of dominance, but what was once attributed to skill, it is starting to seem more likely that it was just from him being more physically mature than his fellow teenagers.
Two years ago his season did not get off to a good start, barely even playing for his SHL team. This led to him leaving and joining the eventual Memorial Cup Champion London Knights in the OHL. Prior to the conclusion of the season, many saw that this was a key move in his development, he is going to a great developmental organization and will be playing with good players so if his skill is there it should show. Unfortunately for Bernhardt it didn’t, with just 11 points in 29 games.
This last season the poor play continued, he actually did worse in Sweden’s second tier than he did the year prior. Want to put more salt in the wound? His younger brother was drafted by Philadelphia and has been a quiet but steady defenseman in the SHL. The problem with Bernhardt is that he was blessed with size and used it to dominate as a kid, and as he got older he was more of a gentle giant and didn’t use his size to his advantage. Unfortunately, I don’t see an NHL or really a quality AHL future for Bernhardt.
33. Malte Stromwall (RW, 22, 5’11, 181 lbs)
Eh, it was worth a shot? That is my overall sum of Malte Stromwall. He did great in Sweden’s second league while being on the same team as current prospect Robin Kovacs. The Rangers signed him to an entry level deal and off to Hartford he went. The slippery goal scorer had the credentials to make his ELC worth the risk –he was a point per game player in the WHL as a 19-year-old and nearly a point per game before the Rangers signed him– at the price of a contract slot.
Unfortunately for Malte and pretty much any other Rangers prospect last year in Hartford, the environment wasn’t exactly harboring success. Not only was the team pretty poor in general but Malte found himself on the 4th line for the majority of the season. Injuries didn’t help either.
Malte still played a similar game to how he did in Sweden, he was slippery and tried to catch the defensemen by surprise, but the AHL game and being on the 4th line didn’t help as he had only six points in 44 games. The best thing for him, in my opinion, would have been being sent to the ECHL last year and get some confidence. It worked for Michael Joly and Ahti Oksanen, who in their 2nd stint with Hartford did extremely well.
For this year, I can’t really say how he has been preparing but we all know that if he wants to build an NHL future he has to really have a great season next year. He doesn’t deserve to be on the top lines but it may be worth trying him with Hartford’s new signee Cole Schneider, who does a little bit of everything right. Given his play style, Stromwall can benefit from a little extra room to use his shot because as poor as he played last season, he is still better than only two goals.
32. Dawson Leedahl (LW, 21, 6’3, 194 lbs)
Hard work and leadership. These are the words that exemplify Leedahl. While I do prefer that Rangers have gone after more talented and offensively gifted players, there are things that just get a lot of people to root for the guy. Leedahl is a long shot to make the NHL, but he has been making the progression to be a pro player. His offense only recently came out in the WHL, but he was 21 years old so that should have been expected.
Leedahl’s main contribution to the team is his grinding game and defensive contributions. Leedahl’s game is built for pro hockey, unlike a lot of junior players, Leedahl doesn’t really like to dangle, he prefers to drive the pucks to the crease or the corners and get work done there. He is also one of the more respected players in the WHL over the last few years. I delved a little deeper in Dawson Leedahl on my personal blog when we signed him here, in which I show that he has actually been one of the better defensive players in the WHL.
When I watched him play he did remind me of the WHL version of one of my favorite depth players right now, Daniel Winnik. I am excited to see how he does in the minors, but realistically speaking the odds are stacked against him, as most 4th liners in the NHL do have a history of production at a lower level. Leedahl has all the makings of an AHL leader and in a sense, there is value in adding that to the organization.
31. Tyler Nanne (D/RW, 21, 5’10, 183 lbs)
The Rangers’ forgotten prospect. Tyler Nanne is from the pretty bad 2014 draft (except Shestyorkin) but he hasn’t exactly had the traditional development for a prospect. For starters, Nanne hasn’t played hockey in 2 years, as he was diagnosed with a heart condition preventing him from playing. Then last year he had to sit out of the season because he transferred schools.
Nanne is a super talented puck moving defenseman. He skates extremely well and can QB the powerplay. Luckily for Nanne, he is getting some more playing time against good competition in Da Beauty League, he even scored a goal a week ago playing for Ryan McDonagh’s team. It is hard to imagine how good Nanne will be after not playing competitive hockey for two years, but he definitely has the talent to turn his career around. It may also be worth talking about how Nanne is the cousin of the 30th ranked prospect Vinnie Lettieri.
30. Vinni Lettieri (RW, 5’10, 181 lbs)
Lettieri is very similar to Dawson Leedahl in the sense that what got the Rangers and likely other teams interested in him is that he is a hard working player that recently came out offensively. I’ve spoken to a lot of University of Minnesota fans and they all really say the same thing about Lettieri, “You’ll love him but he probably won’t be an NHL regular.”
Lettieri is a quick right handed two way forward who coaches rely on in every situation. He is extremely pesky on offense taking up real estate in front of the net, but also tends to surprise a few teams because he has some slick hands in tight. Similar to Leedahl, if Lettieri can make it into the NHL, I don’t see anything more than a 4th liner, but he’d be someone that I’ll be shocked if anyone hates him playing.
29. Steven Fogarty (C, 24, 6’3, 212 lbs)
Evgeny Grache… er Steven Fogarty doesn’t have much time left to establish himself as an NHLer. That’s unfortunate because I am really rooting for him. The Rangers’ problem in the system is a lack of high end forwards and defensemen, but they always find ways to cycle in some responsible depth. Fogarty is the type of player that I love when teams produce out of nowhere: Those super responsible and smart centers that for some reason always seem to score the OT goals in the playoffs.
Fogarty played in the AHL last year, which was his first professional season after four years in Notre Dame, and did fairly well in the train wreck that was Hartford. Fogarty, similar to the other forwards mentioned in this post, is a strong leader and coaches tend to give him a lot of defensive responsibility. He is a quality AHLer and did well enough on a bad team.
Who knows, given our lack of centers and losing a pair of penalty killers, Fogarty may have an outside chance –and I mean really outside chance– to maybe impress the coaching staff. Carter Rowney in Pittsburgh was similar to Fogarty in college and the AHL as a defensive guy finally getting a shot with Pittsburgh at 28 years old, but for that to happen to Fogarty he needs to add more offense to his game.